Goyard Alpin Backpack

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The Alpin backpack proves the ideal work&play companion for today’s urban adventurer

The Alpin Backpack by Goyard conjures up the utilitarian elegance of the traditional packs carried by mountain hikers in the Alps in the late 19th & early 20th century.

Together with a sleek contemporary edge, and a flair for functional details, the Alpin proves the ideal work&play companion for today’s urban adventurer.

This versatile instant classic can be used as a backpack, a carry-on or a cross-body bag thanks to its ingenious strap.

The Alpin backpack is available in one size, and two colour combinations (black Goyardine canvas and leather; black Goyardine canvas and tan leather.

Best Overall Backpacking Pack

1. Osprey Atmos AG 65 ($270)

Osprey Atmos AG 65 backpacking pack

Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (100D x 630D)
Capacities: 50, 65L
What we like: Close fit and fantastic back ventilation.
What we don’t: Fairly heavy at over 4 pounds.

The Atmos AG is our top backpacking pack for 2020 by deftly balancing comfort, organization, and durability. The attention grabber is the suspended “Anti-Gravity” backpanel, but we like the Atmos because it’s a lot more than just an advancement in pack ventilation. We’ve found it easy to dial in a good fit, the pocket design is thoughtfully laid out with plenty of options to divvy up gear, and the materials are all top-notch and hold up well to rough treatment. Overall, the Atmos is an extremely well-rounded build that works great for anything from quick overnight trips to extended jaunts into the backcountry.

As mentioned above, the most prominent feature on the Atmos AG is its mesh backpanel. Bucking the trend of protruding foam that contacts your back in certain areas—back, lumbar, and hips—the Atmos AG has a single large ventilated panel that covers the entire back and hipbelt. The result is best-in-class ventilation, and the flexible mesh conforms to your back and waist very well. Impressively, the design manages to carry heavy gear comfortably—we’ve had it loaded with over 45 pounds on more than one occasion. Those looking to shave weight certainly can do so with one of the lighter models below, but it’s tough to beat the feature set and build quality of the Atmos AG… Read in-depth review
See the Osprey Atmos AG 65  See the Women’s Osprey Aura AG 65

Best Ultralight Backpacking Pack

2. Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 ($270)

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 backpacking pack

Weight: 2 lbs. 0.7 oz.
Fabric: Robic nylon (100D & 200D)
Capacity: 60L
What we like: Ultralight without being overly compromised.
What we don’t: Foam backpanel bunches up.

A number of ultralight packs are designed for thru-hikers and minimalists, but our top pick is the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60. What sets it apart is how few tradeoffs there are in using this 2-pound 3-ounce bag (ours has a large frame and medium hipbelt). While brands like Hyperlite and Zpacks use Dyneema fabric (formerly cuben fiber) to cut weight, Gossamer Gear uses a light yet tough Robic nylon. This helps keep cost in check, and unlike our Dyneema packs, we’ve had no issues with punctures or wear from the Mariposa. It’s still smart to take extra care when bushwhacking or setting the pack down on rocks, but so far it’s the least compromised ultralight pack we’ve tested.

Organization on the Mariposa is excellent. In addition to the large main compartment, the pack has a total of 7 external pockets of varying sizes, making it easy to distribute your gear. Comfort-wise, we’ve found the Mariposa has sufficient padding and plenty of support right up to its 35-pound maximum rating. If we were to change one thing, it would be the backpanel: the removable foam padding is prone to bunching and we prefer to leave it behind. Otherwise, the Mariposa stands out as the most complete ultralight pack on the market and a great option for backpackers looking to cut weight… Read in-depth review
See the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60

Most Comfortable Pack for Heavy Loads

3. Gregory Baltoro 75 ($330)

Gregory Baltoro 75 backpacking pack

Weight: 4 lbs. 15.4 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (210D)
Capacities: 65, 75, 85, 95L
What we like: Heavy hauling comfort with a great feature set.
What we don’t: Pretty heavy and overkill for minimalists.

Gregory has earned a reputation for comfort over the years, and their flagship men’s Baltoro and women’s Deva packs carry on the tradition. These bags are intended to haul heavy loads with strong suspensions, firm but supportive padding, and excellent organization. Gregory modernized the design last year by trimming a few ounces off the previous version, improving ventilation with mesh along the backpanel, and adding a large stretch shove-it pocket at the front. These changes address many of the complaints we had with the old Baltoro, improving one of our favorite packs for shouldering serious weight.

The Baltoro is among the most comfortable and feature-rich designs out there, but it comes at a weight penalty. With its last two updates, Gregory has worked to make it more competitive, but the 75-liter model still comes in at around 5 pounds. If you aim to keep things light and simple on a backpacking trip, this probably isn’t the bag for you. But if you prioritize comfort and appreciate extras like a zippered access to the main compartment, an integrated rainfly, and ample exterior pockets, the Baltoro is a nice choice… Read in-depth review
See the Gregory Baltoro 75  See the Women’s Gregory Deva 70

Best Budget Backpacking Pack

4. REI Co-op Trailbreak 60 ($149)

REI Trailbreak 60 backpacking pack

Weight: 3 lbs. 13 oz.
Fabric: Ripstop nylon
Capacity: 60L
What we like: Wallet-friendly price and reasonable weight.
What we don’t: Limited carrying comfort and only offered in one torso size.

The vast majority of quality backpacking packs cost upwards of $200 or more, but if you’re willing to sacrifice some in terms of comfort and features, you can save with a design like REI’s Trailbreak. New for 2020, the 60-liter pack hits the basics: you get simple foam padding along the backpanel and hipbelt, an internal steel frame for structure and support, and a 35-pound max load that can work well for many overnight and multi-day treks. All told, the Trailbreak is a fine option for those just getting into backpacking or who only plan on taking one to two shorter trips a year.

What do you give up by choosing REI’s entry-level pack over the pricier options on this list? As the miles add up, you’ll likely notice its suspension system, back ventilation, and cushioning can’t match the premium feel of the packs above or even the brand’s own Traverse 70 below. In addition, the Trailbreak only comes in one size (note: there are dedicated men’s and women’s versions), which means you can’t dial in the fit nearly as well as other packs that are offered in three or four torso length ranges. Despite these complaints, the Trailbreak is one of the more well-thought-out models we’ve seen at this price point—it even weighs a reasonable 3 pounds 13 ounces and includes hipbelt pockets—earning it our top budget pick.
See the REI Co-op Trailbreak 60  See the Women’s REI Co-op Trailbreak 60

Best of the Rest

5. Granite Gear Blaze 60 ($270)

Granite Gear Blaze backpacking pack

Weight: 3 lbs. 0 oz.
Fabric: Robic nylon (100D & 210D)
Capacity: 60L
What we like: Excellent mix of carrying comfort, organization, and weight.
What we don’t: Durability and back ventilation can’t match the Atmos AG above.

The Blaze 60 is Granite Gear’s flagship piece, combining heavy-hauling credentials and functional organization at a 3-pound weight. We took the latest model on a difficult trek through the Grand Canyon and were pleased with its overall performance. The pack’s sturdy frame sheet and substantial padding on the hipbelt and shoulder straps carried a full load extremely well (it’s rated for 50 pounds), and the zippered opening to the main compartment made it easy to access our gear. Further, the oversized front and side exterior pockets are extremely functional (you can fit two standard water bottles in one side pocket). Most impressively, the Blaze pulls this off while undercutting most of the competition by 1 pound or more.

What’s not to like with the latest Blaze 60? The padded backpanel favors comfort and support over breathability, and we found it to be stiffer and warmer than a mesh-heavy design like the Atmos above. Moreover, it takes some practice (and patience) to get the shoulder straps and hipbelt adjusted. In particular, reaching behind the frame sheet to remove and reinsert the shoulder strap clips was a pain. But these are small nitpicks, and the Blaze’s well-rounded build makes it one of our favorite packs on the market… Read in-depth review
See the Granite Gear Blaze 60  See the Women’s Granite Gear Blaze 60

6. REI Co-op Flash 55 ($199)

REI Flash 55 backpacking pack

Weight: 2 lbs. 10 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (100D & 420D)
Capacities: 45, 55L
What we like: Light, comfortable, and a great value.
What we don’t: Limited adjustability for the hipbelt and shoulder straps.

Billed as REI’s ultralight pack, past generations of the Flash 55 were a good value but lacked the true UL chops of designs like Granite Gear’s Crown2 60 or Osprey’s Exos 58. But, as we learned on an ambitious winter backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon, the current version has undergone a significant revamp. It’s now competitively light at 2 pounds 10 ounces (4 ounces more than the Crown2 60 and 1 ounce less than the Exos 58), and REI included thoughtful touches like four large side pockets, seam taping on the lid for water protection, and a convenient roll-top closure. Importantly, comfort wasn’t compromised: we exceeded the recommended 30-pound maximum load by about 5 pounds on our trip (due to a hefty rope), and the suspension and padding handled it with ease.

What truly pushes the Flash line into the ultralight realm, however, is its adaptability. The pack includes a range of removable features—REI calls them “Packmod” accessories—including compression straps, two hipbelt pockets, a shoulder strap pocket, and the aforementioned water-resistant top lid. Depending on the trip, you can throw them on for additional organization or leave them behind and trim 7 ounces off of the pack’s weight. One area where we wish REI hadn’t compromised was fit adjustments: both the hipbelt and shoulder straps are fixed in place and offer limited customization. That said, the Flash lives up to its name and is now a bona fide option for serious ultralight backpackers… Read in-depth review
See the REI Co-op Flash 55  See the Women’s REI Co-op Flash 55

7. Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest ($345)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Pack

Weight: 2 lbs. 0.6 oz.
Fabric: Dyneema (50D & 150D)
Capacities: 40, 55, 70L
What we like: Incredibly light but can carry a full load.
What we don’t: Minimal organization.

Dyneema Composite Fabrics—formerly Cuben Fiber until a recent name change—has arrived on the ultralight backpacking scene in a major way. This unique fabric is among the strongest in the world in terms of strength-to-weight ratio, resists moisture to an impressive degree, and is super lightweight. In outdoor gear, you’ll see Dyneema in ultralight backpacks and shelters with Maine-based Hyperlite Mountain Gear leading the charge. The company makes a number of backpack options depending on conditions and sizing, and we think the 3400 Southwest is their best all-rounder.

At 55 liters, the 3400 (for 3400 cubic inches) has the capacity to take on seriously long trips and has become a go-to pack for thru-hikers. In our hands, it has seen duty as an overnight and multiday backpacking pack as well as a packrafting dry bag. What stands out as most impressive is its ability to haul weight comfortably. Whereas most minimalist models are unable to handle a load, the aluminum stays and firm foam padding provide plenty of structure and support. To be clear, the design is undeniably basic, with only the main compartment and 3 exterior pockets for organization (notably, the hipbelt pockets are now larger and phone-friendly). But for those looking for a pack that can haul serious weight at only 2 pounds, the 3400 Southwest is top of the heap… Read in-depth review
See the Hyperlite 3400 Southwest

8. Gregory Paragon 58 ($230)

Gregory Paragon 58 backpacking pack

Weight: 3 lbs. 9.3 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (100D, 210D, & 420D)
Capacities: 48, 58, 68L
What we like: Well-balanced design with a useful feature set.
What we don’t: Heavier but no more comfortable than the Blaze above.

Gregory’s updated-for-2020 Paragon slots below the popular Baltoro above in weight and carrying comfort. But at 3 pounds 9 ounces and a reasonable $230, it’s an attractive option for anything from overnight to extended trips. The pack offers an easily adjustable suspension, plenty of mesh to help you stay cool along the padded backpanel, and a quality feel overall with sturdy zippers and supportive foam. You also get useful extras like a rain cover, large mesh front pocket, and a bear canister-friendly wide shape.

What’s been changed with the latest Paragon? The biggest addition for us is a full-length side zip that allows you quick access to the main compartment (without a weight penalty). In addition, Gregory dropped the old removable day/summit pack (called the “Sidekick”) and replaced it with a standard water reservoir sleeve. As with the Baltoro, we found the Sidekick to have questionable value, so we don’t see this as much of a downside. Finally, the suspension system has been updated with a more body-hugging hipbelt. Taken together, it’s an excellent revamp to one of our favorite mid-range packs… Read in-depth review
See the Gregory Paragon 58  See the Women’s Gregory Maven 55

9. Osprey Aether 65 ($280)

Osprey Aether 65 backpacking pack

Weight: 4 lbs. 15 oz.
Fabric: Nylon (210D & 420D)
Capacities: 55, 65L
What we like: Great adjustability and a very comfortable pack for hauling heavy loads.
What we don’t: Most backpackers still are better off with the Atmos.

The Atmos AG above is Osprey’s leading backpacking pack, but for heavy hauling and light mountaineering, the Aether offers even more in the way of comfort and features. Updated for 2020, the pack dropped the AntiGravity (AG) suspension system for a new AirScape backpanel, which is less elaborate but still has breathable foam and mesh to help keep you cool. With the Aether, you get all kinds of adjustability including with the shoulder straps and hipbelt, along with ample compression straps and attachment points for all kinds of gear. Last but not least, we love the large J-shaped zipper for easy access to the main compartment.

The primary downside of the Aether 65 is its weight. By cutting the capacity on the new version from 70 to 65 liters, the new Aether manages to squeeze in just under 5 pounds, but that’s still fairly heavy for its size. For the majority of backpackers, we think the Atmos is the more practical all-around design for $10 less, and the Gregory Baltoro above gets you more capacity at the same weight (albeit for $55 more). That said, the Aether is purpose-built for carrying heavy loads and remaining comfortable while doing so, and in that it succeeds.
See the Osprey Aether 65  See the Women’s Osprey Ariel 65

10. Zpacks Arc Blast 55L ($325)

Zpacks Arc Blast backpacking pack
Photo credit: Switchback Travel

Weight: 1 lb. 4.1 oz.
Fabric: Dyneema Composite (2.92 oz/sqyd)
Capacity: 55L
What we like: Incredibly lightweight; very water resistant.
What we don’t: Not very durable.

Weighing at least half a pound less than the next lightest pack on our list, the Zpacks Arc Blast takes the ultralight crown. The 55-liter model we tested comes in at an amazing 1 pound 8 ounces including optional extras like two hipbelt pockets. In terms of construction, the Arc Blast uses a similar water-resistant Dyneema (previously called Cuben Hybrid) construction as the Hyperlite above but in an even more streamlined form. This accounts for the low weight but we’ve found it less durable for rough treatment and off-trail scrambling (we got a small puncture in the bottom of our Arc Blast putting it down on a rocky section of trail).

The “Arc” in the name comes from its unique tensioning system that pulls the middle of the bag away from your back, encouraging airflow and alleviating the need for a foam backpanel. Combined with a carbon fiber frame, the pack has a solid structure and provides good support for loads up to about 30 pounds. We wouldn’t recommend carrying much more, however, as the padding is pretty minimal. All in all, the Arc Blast may not be durable or comfortable enough for regular weekend backpackers, but if you treat it with care, it’s an excellent option for serious thru-hikers and minimalist trekkers.
See the Zpacks Arc Blast 55L

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